Saturday, January 26, 2013

Finding a Safe Haven

The hunting pressure on Canada Geese this time of year is almost constant in our semi-rural area. The guns go off almost without ceasing. A few minutes after a round of shotguns go off, you'll see a flock of survivors fly over looking for a safe field in which to land. Places that are both safe and also contain food are relatively hard to find.

There is a large pasture on the edge of the Bay where the geese have learned they are safe and where I have learned you can find them pretty reliably. There is also a small marshy area on the other side of the road where these photos were taken.  I am standing at the road. (If you want to take pictures on someones property, ask the owner's permission. Don't just assume it is okay.) The brushy area at the back of the photo is the shoreline of the Bay, so you can see that it is a fairly narrow area. If I hadn't told you that, though, it could pass for the edge of marsh in a wilderness area. In any event, with the long lens, I don't need to get any closer or ask permission.

This is a naturally occurring puddle which must stay wet much of the year based on the grasses growing in the surrounding area.  Geese are highly attuned to what goes on around them. If you see a flock on the ground eating, you will always see at least one that is simply keeping guard. No one is appointed; it is simply a rule that if your head is up, you are watching for danger. So, forget sneaking up on them. You are not going to be able to do that.

The approach I use (no pun intended) is to move slowly. It is best to move at a tangent and not directly toward them. If they become suspicious of you, they will begin to waddle away. If they become alarmed, they will fly.  If you stand still for a while, they will settle back down. After that, as long as you don't do a lot of moving around or make any loud noises, they will go back to doing what geese do. You can tell from the two standing that the water is not very deep.

About a year ago I posted pictures of Canada Geese completely upside down taking a bath with their feet sticking up in the air. The geese here are using the more traditional method of bathing by ducking their heads under and throwing the water over their back.

Here is another closer look. When my wife and I were doing a lot of fishing, we had a boat. I always thought it was better to go to the fish instead of hoping the fish would come to you. Duck and goose hunters, on the other hand, have to hope the waterfowl will come to them. Seems to me you better know how to pick a good spot.

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